La Ultima Cena

La Ultima Cena is a great film that captures the turmoils of slavery in a very unorthodox manner. Most films retelling the trying troubles of slaves tend to focus on their actual treatment. We are accustomed to seeing slaves beaten, forced to work relentlessly, and just a terrible life overall. La Ultima Cena did all these things, but its does so through the eyes of their master who feels he is a compassionate and caring master. This winds up not being the case, as he seems to have attempted to use Christianity as way to make the slaves even more obedient.

The master, Count de Casa Bayona, seems to be comparing himself to that of Jesus Christ throughout the movie. He washed and kissed the 12 slaves feet who he invited to his duplication of the last supper, just as Jesus had done before he was betrayed by Judas. After the slaves rebelled and it becomes evident that the Count would not bring them under control before serious damage was done, he asks the priest what time Jesus died, and the priest responds with the same hour of the current day. The Count appears to have forgotten that the disciples were not slaves of Jesus Christ. They had free will to choose to follow Jesus. The Count’s slaves did not have the same free will. They were forced to be working in the fields of Cuba because they were brought there from Africa.

The Count did not see these slaves as true humans, as we are initially led to believe. As John Mraz writes in his article, “Recasting Cuban Slavery,” the Count had an obligation to allow  the slave he had granted freedom to the night before to leave. Instead he was executed along with the rest of the slaves who were in attendance of the dinner. Mraz claims that treatments like this were common and very few slave owners followed any slave laws. Alejandro de la Fuente’s article, “Slaves and the Creation of Legal Rights in Cuba: Coartacion and Papel,” further illustrates how manipulative slave owners could be. Slaves were given a price that they could work at to pay off for their freedom. However, slave owners would tend to change these prices and force slaves to keep working even though it was supposed to be illegal to do so. The slave who had his freedom granted by the Count was already a very old man and had been there for an extremely long time already. The Count had granted him his freedom but the overseer still tried to force him to work. The Count also should have had no legal rights to have him executed, he was already a free man and had violated no laws. The poor treatment of the slaves is also shown when one of the slaves states at the dinner table that he just wants a hut. The Count asks him what is wrong with the barracks, and the slave basically responds that it is dark and that a man can not be himself there. The pictures off of the website of the Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas also portrays this. When looking at these pictures on can more fully relate to what the slave meant when he said his one wish would be to have a hut

La Ultima Cena appears to have done a great job at recreating the life of a slave in eighteenth century Cuba. It does an even better job at illustrating the manipulativeness of the slave’s owners. The Count was practically asking the slaves to rebel when he used attempted to use Christianity to control his slaves. He hid not have a basic understanding of his own religion and used it in a way Jesus Christ would have never intended it to be used.